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Richard White Education. (2011) Richard White ('Railroaded The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America.')

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  CSPAN    Book TV    Richard White  Education.  (2011) Richard White  
   ('Railroaded The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America.')  

    July 16, 2011
    11:00 - 12:15am EDT  

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anyway, it is about the beginning of the civil war. those are the two books i have been reading most recently. >> tell us what you are reading this summer. send us a tweet up of tv. >> richard white presents a history of the transcontinental railroads. the author recounts the creation of the railroads, which change the way americans live band opened the open the country to westward expansion. this is a little over an hour. ..
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a also a professor of history at stanford university and during the billing center for the american west with me and the author of the new book, "railroaded: the transcontinentals and the making of modern america." richard is the more precise professor of history at stanford, where he has been since 1998. he previously taught among other places at the university of utah and the university of washington, where he took his phd. my wonderful colleague, richard white is widely regarded as a leading, one might say the leading scholar in three distinct fields of the american west, environmental history,
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subset of our discipline he helped pioneer and native americans. he has been the recipient of the macarthur genius report in the out or at several notable works, including a book entitled from it's your misfortune and none of my own published 1991. a generous heaping comprehensive history of the american west. a book entitled the medal round, indeed empires and republics in the great lakes region. 1652 mike eight teen safety, also published in 1991. one of my favorites from the pacific northwest and earthy organic machine published in the 296. and now we have his new book, railroaded, transcontinental's the making of modern america. the book is argued that reviewed in "the boston globe" just this last weekend, where it was described as a scathing and wonderful new book.
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i think the full implications are likely to be clear as we proceed with this discussion. i should note at the outset that the book is not the classic story about building the transcontinental river road. the story was told many times, very ably inside. richard story begins in the railroads are virtually finished in the history is really a history of how they were operated in the first 30 years or so in distance in the last decades of the 19th century. it's important to keep that in mind that this is not another epic saga of building the road, but has several transcontinental were actually moderate. -- operated. so richard, you've entered a field of study here that others have been in before you, especially the work for chandler may not be familiar with the audience or the story instead of
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the railroads as a precursor for the modern america economy and the modern corporation. her view is little different yet i hope we'll get to the differences you have with chandler and others. set to begin, maybe you could say something about how there were a very large corporate worked on issues having to do with the west and so on. how does your interest in railroads grow out of your previous scholarly work? or maybe it provided some other altogether. >> it comes after the book when i read about my mother, which is a history of memory. and i'd like to get back to the american west. what i wanted was a subject, which would allow me to look at the entire late-night tea and early 20th century west around a single thing. and also at the time i wondered why historians, my third business historians did not write about corporations. and so, corporations and the
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entire west turned to railroad. and the next step is fairly easy. i thought well, i'll start looking at the railroads. then i realized there were railroads that were very similar. initially i thought it was going to be pretty easy. i'll just look at how they operate in the differences between countries. i found out one big railroad. my guys are the same guys in mexico and canada, and the united states, capital from the same place. the technology from all the rest comes from the same place. the roads were operated. so at that point, as is usual in my book, i realized i did not know what i was talking about in the book became very different from the one i set out to write as all talk about later, it was david. i started out thinking that
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these are going to be powerful efficient corporations with a berth in the churn in the north american west to don't really expect to see it. i did find some in the north american west which is not what i expected to sign. my maternity has as much to do with failure as success. >> one way to read your book, at least in my view is you connect to kind of running argument with the great austrian born longtime harvard economist, joseph schell later, who is most well-known for the phrase created distraction in the history of capitalism and modern economy is all about creative disruption. and as i read it at least, one of her principal foils is you answer an argument. do you want to tell us about your regard in the way taken him on quite >> first of all, i admire him a great deal.
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what abc is creative destruction taking place all over the west. it was his great insight that what capitalism does is it's always a revolutionary system and always has to destroy the old and bring in the new. in schumpeter was perfectly right, seen that going on in the way corporations operate in the 19th century. in schumpeter's accounts, things always turn out well. entrepreneurs always in fact if they fail, they just see that the fact go bringing in new work. my entrepreneurs fail and also fail to make a lot of money. and i became the puzzle for me as i went on. i agree we schumpeter, but i didn't give the results coming out of it and i really wanted to understand why, how this process really was. virtually every railroad i worked out ended up going
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bankrupt. many go bankrupt not once, but twice. some of them go bankrupt three times. and they cause all kinds of political social and environmental problems. it's the men who cram them grow immensely wealthy. that became a sense of how exactly does this system work? because we schumpeter, are supposed to bear the burden. mike icefield thing in the usual measure, but did very well for themselves and not to strain the runs throughout the world the. what i ended doing and probably won't go very far, and is it's about growth is this really were all kinds of things happen and i probably would've been better if they didn't have been and
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sometimes i was out working in the north american and that 20 year plan. in the hindsight, it just did not seem a very good idea. the nikes they not only the result of all this type dvd is done growth, but in the same sense it's the environmental catastrophe. do you want to say something about the second part of that? is not what i started to do is isolate hangs there would not have happened, least the way they did without the building of transcontinental railroads cannot talk a little bit about the distinction i make about transcontinental. the police easiest to look at is the great plains. what happens in the the great plains between the 1860s in the first rows penetrated in the 1890s. well, the first thing is the demise of the bicycle, which simply are not made fully responsible, but the final hunch is the result of a roadbuilding
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because you cannot get this out without we have a change. they unintentionally bring about the extension. it doesn't bother people because the replace them with cattle. cattle's drive for a while. it's a fragment of the 1870s, 1880s and then you have a series of catastrophic winners and you get the virtual collapse of the cattle industry, almost overnight. and even ranchers, hard and ranchers never want to look at another cow again after they seem to result of those. after that which he get his wheat farmers. the problem for wheat farmers as they move on the plane. gutierrez, tiberius, particularly catastrophic. so this time, large amounts of wheat. the price is falling and when drought comes particularly in the great plains, many of them are fine.
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so what should look at is the really spring development. first of all you have it with the cattle industry. then you have it wheat farming and knowledge of and by the 1890s and catastrophe environmental damage and political turmoil. >> there is of course another native or indigenous population on the plane that is impacted by the railroads. i know you're talking about next weekend another occasion. i'm wondering if you might give us a preview what he'll say then and summarize your views about what the alliance ditch the native american populations. >> i have to be very careful. what i will say, though i might have to retreat a little on his railroads were probably the worst thing that happened in the
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far west, the great plains, to the far west. it's really hard if you look at how the american population is, about two and a half centuries to get a little more than halfway across the continent. by the civil war, dare practicing purposes. so what you have for indian people as there's no time to adjust. the railroads in the space of a few years have caressed the treaty systems in such a way that congress has the city in 1871 and has agreements. the railroads also have a problem that trains continentals get their subsidies for two reasons. first reason is they have to see
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california to the union. in 1865 they haven't really started building in 1865, so you can't use the civil war as an excuse, what is substituted is the railroads of the way. in effect they are. it's perfectly true. the ability to move troops. the argument would be without the railroad, there would have been no need to fight those. the settlement would've taken place much more gradually and i think in the end, much of the american west which is a lot more like the navajo reservation at the kinds of developments that take place very quickly could've been postponed and that fact would've cost the united states little. it would've been he and the indians match. what i am i am not arguing is of course in the indians will
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become subjugated by the united states. i'm talking about when and where it happens and how it happens. >> i want to address the question. your description of railroads stealing as onerous process sounds very similar to recent bank failures as owners profited. do you agree? for me just to expand by sharing with the audience. passage from her book, where you offer a summary judgment of what the story is been telling. here is your characterization of the railroad at the end of the day. overbuild, prunty bankruptcy in receivership, wretchedly managed, politically correct, environmentally harmful and financially wasteful. these corporations nonetheless help create a world where private success came from fortunate timing and state intervention. prophet arose from the financial market in the later contracts and from successfully selling transportation.
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before you answer, i went to a 90% title of your book. before you answer, i went to a 90% title of your book the question i read, i went to a 90% title of your book the question i read from the audience. you're talking about the transcontinental series some kind of precursors, some kind of harbinger of mundanities in your story. so with that in fact the observation of the current economic and financial team is part of motivation? >> this book gets 12 years. many of the disasters that it seems so pale have not taken place when i was writing this book. everything, thought as it may sound and david will come back later became fine with some of these guys. it doesn't sound like it from that path, but i read this. i wrote in in seattle and then i wrote it when the beginning of things like enron, the.com bust,
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then finally the financial crisis, which comes towards the end of the book. and i began to realize there were certain parallels. have a great admiration for business history and i learned a lot about it from business historians. but i had a very naïve idea that the way people made money from corporations as the corporations made money selling something and then they divided it up among the stockholders. write a whole bunch of corporations that last money. the stockholders very often got little and yet the people who get control of the corporation made a fortune. i began to see, especially among the dot-coms on all the companies seem to sell nothing and i was trying to buy a house at the same time in the silicon valley and i knew anybody who what and, anytime i saw anyone under 30 are what doubt. i couldn't buy it.
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but they were making huge amounts of money on the financial crisis was the same thing. the utter catastrophe to be bailed out. the bankers themselves suffered very little. they actually do quite well. i began to think, this isn't just something in the late 20th century. in a weird way, the late 20th century and early 21st century seemed to be a lot like a 19th century. everything seemed to be like the 19th century. in the danger for historian as coal mining. people who live there were differences. clearly the kinds of structural things, the maternity we are used to was already beginning to emerge that the first corporation in the american west first been settled and all the hobgoblins with washington, financial markets, all the kinds
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of chicanery that we became all too familiar with. these guys are doing a simpler, but they were doing much the same thing. >> i want to ask a question of baby takes you quite a little bit beyond the boundaries of your own book and research and writing. there is a lot of history that intervenes between the late 19th century and now. and though our old may have some similarities, a lot of things have intervened. the creation of the interstate commerce commission the 1880s try to bring some order to the railroad industry through federal federal government regulations in a series of other government initiatives to bring order to various marketplaces over the course of the late 19th and 20th centuries, the new deal with this moment comment. so what's their story? to the correct tivo some problems you see and i would let her guard down again? there is the one continuous story of corruption and
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malfeasance in the 1860s forward? >> you have come onto the prospects of this. the late 20th century 19th century is similar. one of the things they noticed comes from an english economic historian. he did calculate the capital income into the railroads thinking well come and see which of, which is the usual way. say what you will about the late 19th century. the rising standards. well actually there were. and given the west, they dropped in 1870, 1880, 1890 until 1900 the progressives and followed literature. we probably should let up a bit. that is when per capita incomes for individuals in the united states really start to rise and will continue to rise all the way through the world war ii, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and
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stagnate when we began to get the kinds of things i'm seeing here. so there is a long and her crew. one of the things i say about this, most of the reviews so far has stressed the critical elements of it. one of the things i try to bring out is the late 19th century is also before them. in the 20th century, many reforms, not that these things are manageable, not that people can't take control. i'm not a happy face and story. i never will be. it's not going to happen, but i really do try to plan out, it does achieve many things that show up in the 20th century and people ignore the fact many of these things are in the late 19th century many, of opposition. >> richard, some in the audience asked the following question. what is the biggest challenge
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you encountered in researching this book? in other words, when you start doing research? you could have continued for years. my want to tell us a little something about your own research and writing habit neither in the morning dashti of research assistants and so on? >> usually don't use research assistants. i owe virtually all my writing habit to my children when they were his mall. the only time i could ever write was to get a early in the morning when they were out. hoping getting the kids ready for school. much of the book will be written and does predawn hours that i've become very fond of, which is largely due to my children that is very very well. i owe them a great debt of gratitude.
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i guess i've never expressed it to them that way. for this book i operate differently from many historians i know a lot of it, but i did not read the secondary literature first. i go into to the archives. but i really really want to do is get to know people. and i can say this to david and historians in the audience would know what they mean. otherwise it seems kind of strange. the people i've read about are more real to me than most of the people i see in the streets every day. this is something that scares my wife. she got used to it after all these years, but it really is true. what you begin and even though you know this is when you get to a situation and predict what they're going to do when they do it, that point they say okay, i really have reached some kind of
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understanding. the core piece of research as i read other peoples mail. that's what i do. and the night teen century, the ring i read about these guys is they really came to respect the business. it's to the point. it's not long. it has to be picky. it goes right there. i can't call my guys on it, i would call them framed. in the state aims i couldn't believe there is a naturally come to the bottom of the letter and it comes just saying destroy this letter, bring this letter. there's so many unknowns in the archive better unburned and then destroyed. the people are so trusting in a way that is hard for me to believe. thank god they didn't have twitter in the 19th century, but they leave that for me to read. and so the things that are dating they really do come to dislike each other a great deal.
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but then i had to work and effort by corporations. you can literally go on forever. when the heels of anything new really begin to diminish. at that point it was time to stop because i could go on forever. 12 years is a long, long time. >> this is a must-see prodigiously deeply researched book. the archival research that underlines the narrative is truly phenomenal. richard, you refer to the principles that appear in your story as my guys and you have kind of a begrudging fondness for them. when you touch on them, you enter into this very, very controversial area of corruption and how corrupt they were. i'm reminded of something smart
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way inside, perhaps in the famous novel he did with charles w. warner in the gilded age which gave him a name in the area someplace. he said america has no native criminal class except for the united states congress. they think the other one was i want many congressmen who is an sop, but why do i repeat myself? and there's more than a little of that flavor in your book. so maybe we want to say a little something about what you mean by corruption, the word that he fears if not on every page very frequent in your account. notion of corruption is corruption of the body of politics, the politicians were for sale, definition of an honest congressman. it was the political round in particular. you have some of that on your mind. you have an even broader
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definition. say something about the nature of corruption in late 19th century america. >> is quite complicated. what i mean by corruption basically something very very simple. and that's any exchange of public goods for private faith and that became the kind of thing. congressmen would grant them charters, grants and subsidies, grants and laws that help them against rivals. essentially, this is still in the years after the civil war, stilley jacksonian element. in fact private interests will take over the public. the corporation make that would be the thing that was the engine that drove all of this.
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that does happen. i argue in the book something more subtle really happened. if the corporation wasn't interested in the united states. the corporation wasn't interested in taking over policy. all these guys wanted to do was make some money. and so they really have limited ambitions and to make money they really had to make sure and this is one of the central insights for me in the book as they turned to a way that businesses compete and goes on to the present day. when one business wants to stop another business, you can see the quarrel between the banks would be an easy one and retail merchants. they are fighting in congress for business damage. and to do that, everybody had i read for a couple of years and then i go the word with fran. everybody here was friend.
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huntington, stanford, hopkins. i mean, it sounds like his father. then he began french it means something else. what they do is keep friendship of a social forum. hatred is personal. french it does and that's what they do. mark twain wrote an honest congressman is somebody who thought. friendship is about royalty. and might be in a bad cause, but many are getting to run the railroad and the worst thing you can say about somebody is there a traitor. the worst thing as treason and for them, they carry over that kind of ethic, which is one satanism into business relationship and that's how the whole thing operates. they have friends who are politicians.
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they have friends who are judges. they have friends who are business men. if friends who are bankers. if you want to understand the late 19th century, and friendship. and they don't bribe each other. bribery is failure of friendship. it's an ad hoc purchase and you can't count on it. a friend can be counted on and know they'll be rewarded later. and that's how the kind of intersection of business of politics comes about. these guys will serve a year or two in congress. they become corporate employees. they become lawyers and move back and forth. get paid off. they are taking care of, that they have to bribe somebody raises the whole issue of the business itself and makes everything far too visible, far too messy. not that they won't do it. they do do it.
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>> i just like to remind our radio audience that if you're listening to the commonwealth club of california radio program and i guess today is richard wade, professor of history at stanford university and codirect dirt of the center for the american west. we are here discussing his new book, "railroaded" and myths about the transcontinental railroads in the building of the american west. richard, we've got more than one question in here and i suppose you have anticipated about the founder of our university. so one questioner says leo stafford was the founder of the university that presumably pays your salary as well as that of the moderator, that's me. don't you have anything positive to say about the so-called robber barons and in the same vein, another question or ask them in your position at stanford, this may be a difficult question, but how corrupt was leland stanford?
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[laughter] >> okay, first of all, my wife says one of the things and sometimes she thinks a thing she can do to my grave stone. one of him as he bites the hand who fed him and that's fair enough. leland stanford -- let me give you a piece of advice that probably most of you know already. do not destroy your personal papers. if you destroy a personal papers, your side of everything that happens is pretty much going to be lost and all those other records are resting very safely in huntington's archives are not kinds of people hate you. the stamper correspondent show he is quite correct. but there's nothing else giving stanford sides of the story. it is unclear who, but almost certainly james stanford just to
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during all that its correspondents. so it's less of the letters he wrote to other people and they are dna and then there's testimony. so he is very much a part of it. one of the things that happens is people who ran the central pacific renowned as in it together. things became so messy and they all had so much to hide, that nobody could have her back of these corporations. the only way you got out of the southern pacific as you type. people try to mike the mafia they came back. you had to come back in. for a while, that's because i'm never going to steal from each other, but that left out david coleman in the 19th century trial which is actually wonderful. the last stagecoach is the day the court and trial if you go back to san francisco papers still have him leave bad poetry
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with those that comes in on the opening with century california. david colton was an associate stealing from the other associate. when he died, associates figured out figured out embezzled. they went to his widow. in doing this, they also found out that because the books were so cooked, it was very easy for employees to steal from them. they found that their bookkeeper sold $600,000. so there's all kinds of corruption up and down. by and large, the associates themselves came to dislike each other, but they stuck together all the time. stanford is one of them. and huntington is corrupt, but he's also funny, to i would
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hesitate to go up against them. it doesn't mean you're going to lose the fight in a probably not going to win it in to wish you were never in the fight to begin with. is a very formidable government. >> the questioner asked about robert aarons do is put into common circulation by matthew joseph and relevant as they extreme antibusiness sentiment of that decade. i want to go through a list on ask a question about the robert pear and interpretation of this. i'm quoting your
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characterization. ec thomas durrant was a bassoon. tommy siemer was corrupt at large that competent. james hervey was a racist brutal peer grenville dodge is a liar and an eclectic hater who hated loudly and demonstrably. stan brenner is a bassoon. curt lister and was obtuse and the cackle of the southern pacific executives and a whole bunch you named were divided coro some petulant arrogant and inept men. that sounds a little bit like matthew joseph. you see in your introduction that you think the robert pear and interpretation of history is likely to be the low quickly misinterpretation of what you try to learn. so given that town in the way you do with individual robber baron, how was the teacher your account really is distinguishable at its analytic war from the matthew joseph accounts the mobile the whole
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rather current theory? >> after 10 or 12 years, much of that is paraphrasing what they said about each other. i'll give you one quote. it was the golden age of american betrayal. so when i quote something, i often think this is pretty mild compared to what they're saying about each other. but a, the san francisco businessmen involved often on for the southern pacific said about charles crocker, he was a living, preteen, wadley monument , whose viciousness, pull garrity and dishonest. okay, i'm up against masters here. compared to the kinds of things they said, what i say is quite mild. many of the things they do say, thomas durrant is probably the nicest thing anybody ever said about him. so i'm not coming i do see them come that i'm pretty much the courses that i have.
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the two books were probably dominate most about what these railroad corporations relate were popular literature. joseph spoken also of coors that the opera fare. my main differences by guys weren't nearly as competent. i think what you tend to happen to look in the of these corporations and they seem to be so. they seem to have an idea what they want to achieve and they go ahead and achieve it. they might be evil and rotten and corrupt, that they are certainly capable and there really seems to be no resistance. you go inside these corporations. it's for fat guys and octopus. it really is when shandling who does the visible hand, i'm looking at what the president say, what the managers say in what the workers say. all of us know that the very
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different view of an organization. when you go into the bowels of these organizations, francis adams who is one of the main reason the book could not contain himself about the ineffectiveness, inefficient the period and what it turned into a tent is utter self-loathing, said he was ahead of his corporation that he could never sacrifice. so i think the difference is they are not as confident. and that goes back to the essential problem. this goes back in many ways to a conversation i had. my father was a businessman, a vice president at the time. and probably he was working the equivalent of an organization like this. i didn't know what he was talking about. he said it like he did tell me, how when you go to work and nobody -- nobody can do their
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job, nobody knows what they're doing, nobody can give you an accurate piece of information, you cannot find it on his man, how was it that the world works? the sun is going to rise them going to do it all again tomorrow. i thought he was talking about me. it's also one of those questions someplace in the back of my mind and became the mystery of how corporations work. i mean, they are dysfunctional, totally dysfunctional. but they go on. they are put back together by the courts in the federal government in go again. this is how this world begins to work and that became the puzzle i really was trying to figure out. it very different kinds of miniature corporations, triumphant entrepreneur or anyone like the out to post. it's not the way it works.
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and my account partially comes from them. the number of men in the 19th century who were on the verge of a nervous break down is unbelievable. there's a wonderful moment in the panic of 1873 where carlos huntington who is about as tough as an individual as it ever seen. he says they sit here, going nowhere, not knowing what to do. he writes in another time he has left maybe three hours and this is the kind of thing that happens. it literally feel overwhelmed the system they are both creating, which clearly is not under their control. and that's the problem with robert behringer. i can't find the people in control. and i'm talking about the transcontinental. the historian of an evidentiary base that will keep the evidence. based, not necessarily
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universal. >> so part of what you're doing and i think very successfully as demythologizing disinherited notion of the supreme known as robert aarons and they might've had a perennial lifestyle, but they didn't have perennial power, even over their own corporation. so there's a lot of demythologizing going on. but on close reading, among the people you're demythologizing us aware of, or people who bought the mythological lines are people like frank morris for so many california students. and even it would appear, one of california's most famous governors made his political career by taking on the octopus, the southern pacific ray road read much of the setting we have today, not least least about the
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initiative in the recall were the direct product of his attack on the southern pacific ray road. then your account, 1910, 1911, the places as you say, an empty suit. how can contemporaries like north and john didn't have got it so wrong? >> there is a brief window between 1882 and probably 1882 to 1894, 1892 in which there is an octopus with a political machine. in san francisco still lives, but it was more of a city in the 19th century. but we than stanford does is hook up with the guy who is the blind bias, chris buckley. stanford republican. what they do is essentially run stanford is elected senator and is very clear at the time. and then george hearst is very
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clear at the time. so there's a period where in fact it gazing up more ways against the odds. the octopus by 1892 stanford is utterly divided machine. they convene the grand jury. he dictates the suffering poor health, even though the grand jury indictment is illegal and ran out in court. he's done. stanford, huntington comes to stanford and says, here's the evidence you brought. here's what they want you to do. will send you back to the southern pacific ray road. you can keep the pacific. stanford takes the deal. beginning on the politics, he's not getting it. instead, what you have is the southern pacific will be running
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three different candidates, representing three different factions of the southern pacific. and let the achieve in 1892 is they allow somebody named steven wyatt, no relation to me to become a democratic anti-monopolist senator from california ended far more than hiram johnson's father who's in their pocket. there is this memory of those figures but it's really quite real and that's what goes on but norris. i think for johnson would be interesting to go back. my sense and i can't prove it because i stopped to look for that is hiram johnson is a very smart politician. the octopus is far too valuable. everybody has the memory of it. they may not know if this powerful anymore, but he turns into something he can but not comport up and down.
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pyramid comes in, takes over the southern pacific and is not the political operator he is. there's no match for johnson. johnson will do is still the railroad issue for the democrats and make pervasive republican mice, but that in reform. but the octopus is dead by the early 1890s. >> you pretty thoroughly demythologizing railroads and transcontinental as the all-powerful entities than many people thought. what if we broaden the terms of that to that point gnashes generally speaking, what if anything at all as both of broader minutes of the american west, the cowboys, sophistries, homesteaders, california trail and so on, is there anything still defensible on an historical standard? the whole thing is to be put into the best bidder. >> any set of stories that can have the power those stories
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have in the extended rinses virtue or not. would have been serious people themselves really begin to live according to the sky and submit it strengths. and so what you will have is a wonderful account that others have used an i visa to an account shows the way it works, where kit carson comes to rescue a woman who has been captured. in fact what they do is they tell the prisoners to write away. i'm going to do stuff that's been captured there come a begins going through the camp and finds the diamond novel and it is about kit carson rescuing women from the apache. and kit carson sits down and starts reading the design novel in the novel is is the which. so kit carson says here's an
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actual historical character now constructing himself out of these kinds of minutes. it's a great genius of the american west, the one who understood the west itself to become a commodity. buffalo bills wildlife shows never cause and felt the show will take the actual people who are involved. which i then buffalo bills wild west show his indians could fight custody will then join buffalo bills wildlife show to fight custer in the every now. and before wanted it, which buffalo bills. you know, it is point, you can tell the reality of the fiction. so my larger point about the west is you can demythologizing and you'll never get your heart out. these stories are really about
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the last essential america. they are about you can reimagine yourselves, begin again, that there is a place and that you can go, which is untouched, utterly mythical. you can be the first person they are. all these things play very deeply in the american site. you know, when we talk about genre is, there's no southern. there's no midwestern. it begins to encapsulate this whole set. the last thing i ever wanted to. you know, it's wonderful. it really does capture what it was like in the territory in the 1880s. but it's really after much larger things. >> one of the great iconic western of liberty bell and said the single most memorable line
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from the film comes to the very ends, with a newspaper is when the truth becomes the legend. and the west has been an engine of drive-in thinness of legendary proportions. >> there's at least one but i call robert. who at least at first glance appears to be an outlier and that's james jay hill, who would build the great river, which at least by popular understanding of four i believe major transcontinental built largely without subsidy from the northernmost of the transcontinental. he was trying to populate. do you understand may be he should not be at my occurred as
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a solely private enterprise with lenny of opportunity for interface of the political system in the standard corruption there as well. >> his most famous quote is give me enough sweet and not build your railroad to health. but what he'll had a sale is the only one who realizes he is a little bit ahead. he perceived an attack is going to build the red road, which is something to put on it. that's the major transcontinental. it's the depression of 1893, but it's not true that he doesn't get a subsidy. there's a core road around the great northern as the st. paul and minneapolis and manitoba, which has some of the largest land grant in minnesota and the decoders can a viable land that becomes the core around which she extends back into the great north. but the real thing is so build the road at about the first time
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you really need transcribed until because in 1890, after 1893, the american family comes off for these roads, the single fact. the united states government entrance, and all brad rhodes builds california. the transcontinental will be part of the money date date and pay a subsidy to raise the rates and the reason is they cannot compete steamship lines. the government has paid the subsidy and subsidizes corporations are run can raise rates and make money transferring across the country. into new orleans for up to the east coast. that is far and away the
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cheapest route. as i found out and i won't bore you with the details. it's nearly as quick as putting it on a brother tried to as whence he sent and headed east, god knows where it's gone. i mean, they have a hard time tracking this thing. they can take a long time. >> james jay hill did not do it very differently from the others. though you also suggest that other countries to do differently. you do allude to the site without developing the point that the europeans different differently. they made railroad systems on a different model. how different were they? were they something this country should have emulated? >> people said the cat was out of the back of the techniques
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they have are very simple. many in the united states did not have been in germany can did not have been in england. each one did different. with the english did do something really simple. if you're going to build a railroad coming out to pitcher on your own money unit. there has to be stopped and the most english rivers and the most english rivers and the most english rivers and the most english rivers by selling stocks. there's actually stock risk in the railroad. most american railroads are not built that way. american roads are built with drug money. americans try to control rare roast by regulating rates. the french are much smarter. the french say we're always going to have weight problems. you're always going to have cruel and corruption internally if we allow you to build a railroad in any place you choose. the rest has to be approved by the state. and what they don't allow is what kills railroads in the west would be some most competitive
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route. so the french do it that way. the germans do with much more state control in each does it in a different way. and they don't face the same problem in the united states. france, england and germany are relatively small. the united states and france, england and germany have far more capital than the united states. we were a poor nation -- capital poor nation, so are certainly growing very, very fast. if you compare relative to the 19th 19th century historians have done and the united states doesn't come off by any statistical measure we don't come off that well. we have our low rates largely because we cherish cheap commodities and long distances and not so much the total fares, the rates that carry them so many miles. >> it's also quite substantial
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about not just the managers and mismanagement, but also about the workers and especially the confrontation between the american railway union and the nationwide railway system in the 1890s. >> in what ways do we see a template and away you are to recede on the business and financial site? >> in some ways we don't. one of the interesting things going back as i discovered some thing that is loosely divided up between labor union, green backers at the time people call this something much simpler. there's a strong anti-binoculars and strong anti-binoculars weans and a third party throughout anti-binoculars. worker in 10 binoculars on. but they made a monopoly as corporation. pretty much use the word good
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honest. they think control is being taken away from ordinary though. in the mid-19th century there's is nothing not monitored and -- on current politics. not all of them, but i'd say the majority believe that the purpose of an economy in the republican society to produce republican citizens is not to produce the highest gross national product. instead what they say associate producer dissidents who are able to take the public and are very clear what they're talking about. it means the worker should be able to support a family, there should be an independence among producers. nobody can dictate to them about the conditions in which they will reach market. they really hold these things
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very, very seriously and it becomes the core of this policy. the politics we utterly misunderstand, but understood worry about the time. so labor is not a modern labor. businessmen join it, lawyers join it. instead what they see themselves is taking republican ideals, oliver republican ideals bring them over to the economy. the economy should be subservient to the republic and not vice versa. it wasn't the government's job to serve business, but the business should produce certain kinds of citizens to the american republic to survive. and that way they see the country is largely made up of middle people. the problem they have is safe to find these things in terms of manhood. by manhood dating white men. most anti-binoculars are great
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to the court. it's really about white men. it's about the ability of going to a family. it's about winning being domestic, dean in the home. so there is real limits that is not the kind of things bring over into the late 20th century. but today was another one of those revealing points, looking at a different way of seeing the world. americans in the late 19th century are not like us. they thought of the world in a very, very different way. once you understand that, politics become much for comprehensive. >> i think i'd be remiss if i didn't. one of the stylists are not merely deeply researched total analytic history, but you sprinkled through the book. i'm not sure quite what they're called in elements to remind me of the way john doe put together
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so many different elements. you call yours whatever of bike. these are just the passages that are scattered through the narrative. how did you come to the conclusion you want to put that kind of thing in their? and what is the purpose? and the past analogy is dead on. this is way off there should never be allowed to tell the council what they said. david said today it sounded a lot like my cat. >> yeah, that's where i got it from. the nike did not cross my mind. clearly, working back i do probably for the same reason with a big narratives. what i wanted to do is bring it down to daily life and burn it down to not just associates and
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the large, charles francis adler, the corporation. other rather transforms people in their daily lives. like any historian, i also found stuff in the archives that are too good to use. and he said nothing to do with the mainline. .. most of the time they never
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injured correspondence. joanna brogan -- there's a lot of stuff that is written about it and what it turns out is one statistic grab me. joanna grogan made 1 dollar a day. she worked as a maid in a hotel in a town in missouri. by the time they were done with the hospital bill, she died. she had her leg amputated by very incompetent doctors. hospital amounted to about two years of her work. she would have had to work two years to simply pay the bill for the hospital. huntington does want to pay the bill but he is suffering too because he realizes he is being cheated by all of the local people, the hotel keeper, the undertaker and all the doctors. they see this as joanna grogan a chance to make money. what they have done is they have taken on somebody who cheats on such a colossal scale they have no idea what they have got into. you are not going to cheats -- and what he does do is he breaks
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the law down. they'll have to settle for much less down or get nothing at all. he buys out joanna grogan's fathers farms mortgage. joanna grogan had five children, none of them who had shoes. there's this final detail that comes in there too. where did the mortgage come from? the mortgage came from the county clerk who had embezzled the school fund and then flooded out to local farmers for mortgages. so at this point i thought you know, from bottom to top, no wonder mark twain called at the gilded age. i mean every place you scratch you find these kinds of stories. i later found there are plenty of honest people that i -- in the 19th century. not many in the railroad archives but plenty in the 19th century. >> well we have come to the point in our program where there is time for only one last question. i'm afraid it is kind of a big question i'm going to paraphrase several versions of it that have come up from members of a
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audience. one standard narrative of the transcontinental railroad is that it is the first installment in a series of federal investments in the development of the american west, nation-building, federal nation-building in the west that extends from the transcontinental railroad, heavily federally subsidized through the great hydroprojects of the early and middle 20th century, hoover dam, just that in the interstate highway act of the 1950s and now the federal subsidies for high-speed rail in california corridors. so some people would argue there is a direct genealogy there and all of these things are part of a long-running historical project to invest in the communication and transportation and energy producing infrastructure that made this region. to the extent that is the story you are arguing that in fact initial step in this process was a badly misplaced time so should we extrapolate from that to critical judgments about the
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later installations of the same general strategy, the hydra project and the interstate highway system and something i know you have opined about in the pages of "the new york times" recently high-speed rail? >> i will make my position as clear as i can. i clearly oppose the high-speed rail. i won't even go into it but i say that i see it much more like the transcontinental's and not like the transcontinental. but i'm not against federal infrastructure investment. all i ask is that you do two things. first of all, when you build something you think about the consequences of building it and you think if it is needed now. much of the problems with the transcontinental railroad is they were built way ahead of the map. by the time in fact you need those railroads they would have decayed into russ. there is the kind of sense we build it now but we will use it later. think about your house. you don't build your house and move into a 40 years later because there's going to be no house to move into.
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you have to keep pouring money into it to keep it up. want to build these things they become this constant demand that money is poured into them so if you build them ahead of demand when he don't need them it is going to be extraordinarily costly. most of the railroads up to the 100th meridian would have been built without federal subsidies. they would have been built anyway. they would have drained into san francisco bay. subsidies are really needed in between the 100th meridian and the sierras and my question is well, did you needed them? wideband? why do you need so many of them? what are the costs of having done them? i have written a book on the columbia river, the organic machine. the organic machine was again about building dams, federal subsidies. but things turn out differently. in the dams, the united states got incredibly lucky. the critics were exactly right. they said what are you going to do with his electricity?
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is it for jackrabbits? we have a farm surplus. why are going to hear get more band when you are trying to get people to abandon land and not plant? those are perfectly rational arguments. what happened of course was world war ii. it has nothing to do with the building of the dams. suddenly needed all of that electricity and you needed it for hampered and in fact you needed as much food as you could produce. that might be great planning on somebody's part but really it was just sheer luck. sometimes you just bailed out. it is best not to count on being bailed out. is best to be cautious about these things so my argument is not against subsidies per se but again against this kind of dumb growth, to think about what we are subsidizing and why because people can give you all the arguments for the transcontinental's were wonderfully plausible and ended up not being true. >> our thanks to richard white, professor of history at stanford university and codirector of the
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bill lane center for the american west and most importantly for our purposes here this evening the author of the new book "railroaded" the transcontinentals and the making of modern america. i can assure you it is a book that both entertains and provokes virtually every page. we also:our audiences here and on radio television and the internet and tonight's program has been held in association with the california historical society. i am professor david kennedy from stanford and now this meeting of the commonwealth club of california the place where you are in the know, is adjourned. [applause] [applause] >> a wonderful program. [inaudible conversations] >> this event was hosted by the commonwealth club of california in san francisco. for more information information visit commonwealth club.org.
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>> we or hear the thomas jefferson library and the library of congress. this exhibit holds over 2000 books from jefferson's personal collection. what interesting discovery was made on jefferson's first track of the declaration of independence through the use of modern technology? well you will find lots of answers about this unique library and c-span's original documentary, the library of congress airing this monday night. we will tour the iconic jefferson building including the great hall in the reading room. we will show treasures found in the rare books and special collections and presidential papers from george washington to calvin coolidge. and learn how the library is using technology to discover hidden secrets in their collections and to preserve its holdings for future generations. join us for the library of congress this monday night at 8:00 eastern and pacific on c-span. modern technology reveals that jefferson used the word subjects before replacing it with the word citizens in his first draft
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of the declaration. >> what are you reading this summer? booktv wants to know. >> well i'm reading ulysses by james joyce. i started that on january 1. it is a new year's resolution of mine to plow through that book. that is bloomsday, the day the whole book is built around. i have a chapter to go. i don't recommend it. it is a classic, but it is impenetrable, very hard to read that i will get it done. also, the summer will be reading "founders" which is a raphael book about those who are part of the american revolution. not a lot of new ground plowed but very interesting stories. looks good to me. two books by patrick o'brian, master and commander in the far side of the earth, which is what was put together to make the master and commander movie starring russell crowe. i loved the movie and want to
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read the books now. the other book i will be reading is called sword and honor which is a compilation of military stories, some commission and some written about 19th century battles in the napoleonic wars and the civil war. that is what i will be reading this summer. >> visit otb.org to see this and other summer reading lists. >> yes i have had an interesting and fun life and i don't owe any of the to the feminist. [laughter] feminism has become a very hot topic. i suppose the reason for that is sarah palin. the feminists cannot resist attacking sarah palin. it is not just because she is a republican and a conservative. it is because she is a successful woman. she has a cool husband, a lot of kids, great career and making lots of money. she is by any standard a success and they can't stand it.
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acid in their wounds is that she is pretty too. so the feminists don't believe that women can be successful. they think women are oppressed by the patriarchy. they are held down by mean men and they need the government to rescue them and give them more advantages. and that is a very unfortunate thing but you never hear them talk about really successful women. margaret thatcher, condoleezza rice. what about all the wonderful women who were elected last november the second, 2010? well, turned out they were all republicans. in fact they were all pro-life. and that wasn't what the feminist plan at all. they simply do not recognize success. i really think one of the reasons there was able to beat the the bee people rights amendment was because they did not believe i was doing what i did. they conjured up conspiracies like the insurance companies
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were financing meal or some other nonsense like that. now this ideology of telling young women that you are victims of an oppressive society is so unfortunate. if you wake up in the morning and believe that, you are probably not going to accomplish anything whether you are a man or a woman. and, many of the real feminists, in fact most of them, think that abortion is the lit must test for being a feminist. but one of the new feminists, jessica valenti, wrote in "the washington post" just a few weeks ago that the definition of feminism is that we are under an oppressive patriarchy and they have got to work to overturn it and stop it. so that is what feminism is. it is also not true that they are working for a quality. the feminists are for empowerment by the female left. you find that they are not
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empowering all women. they want to make an alliance with the left-wing and so it is the female left that has become so powerful when it allied itself with the obama administration. now, when the feminist movement got underway, really in the late 60s and early 70s, they call themselves not feminism. they call themselves the women's liberation movement and you have to ask, what did they want to be liberated from? they wanted to be liberated from home, husband, family and children. so you find that they were in courage in women to be independent of men. that is why they were big supporters of divorce and they looked upon marriage as a very confining role in life. gloria steinem said that when a woman gets married she becomes a
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semi-nonperson. betty friedan and said the life of a wife and mother was living in a comfortable concentration camp. that was their attitude. the social degradation of women was really a major goal of the feminist movement. and it wasn't -- they were really not using the argument that it takes two incomes to support the family. that really was and why they wanted to get her out of a home. they wanted to get her out of the home not for economic reasons but were social and cultural reasons because they tried to tell women that you are just a parasite. your life is not accomplishing anything. the only way to have fulfillment is to be independent of men and have your own career. >> you can watch this and other programs on line it tv.org.